Max Muncy has arguably been the most disappointing Los Angeles Dodger thus far in the 2022 season and many have wondered if it’s because of the lingering effects after he tore his UCL in Game 162 last year.
The injury, which was kept under wraps until Muncy revealed the severity much later in the offseason, didn’t require surgery, but now it seems as if that may have been the wrong decision … or that the Dodgers didn’t properly ease Muncy into action to begin 2022.
After Los Angeles signed Freddie Freeman, it was clear Muncy would no longer be the top first base option, which was (largely) his job the past two seasons (and 2018). Instead, his role shifted into a more prominent roving second base and third base option, which he was previously accustomed to on a lighter basis when he also had first base duties.
But was that the right situation for him? It’s never easy to rehab a partially-torn UCL, and it’s even more riskier to upend that rehab process by playing two higher-impact positions. Muncy requires more range at both second and third while also being forced to use his arm much more frequently than he would with a majority of his reps coming at first base (or DH).
Muncy apparently re-aggravated the elbow injury colliding with the wall at Nationals Park attempting to catch a ball in foul territory while playing second base, further revealing how this was not the appropriate role to entrench him in coming off such an ailment.
Dodgers slugger Max Muncy could miss time due to his elbow injury
Nobody’s saying there’s absolutely no chance this would’ve happened had Muncy been playing first base, but he’s certainly more susceptible in a utility role.
In recent years, players like Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, Corey Seager, Salvador Perez, and Travis d’Arnaud, all of whom play positions outside of first base, underwent the procedure due to their defensive demand. And you’d think the Dodgers would’ve learned from Seager’s situation!
Back in late 2017, Seager experienced elbow pain and attempted to strengthen his UCL and the surrounding muscles, only for him to succumb to surgery just 26 games in 2018.
If Muncy didn’t want to undergo surgery, that’s obviously his choice and what he believes was best. Though it’s hard to pass up on signing Freddie Freeman with Muncy possibly heading for free agency after 2022, the Dodgers should’ve at least limited Muncy’s time on defense to begin the year and used him at DH a bit more. Out of 41 games so far, Muncy has logged 19 at third base, 16 at second, eight at DH and one at first base.
It’s going to be a real blow if Muncy now needs surgery when he could’ve gotten it in October or if it could’ve been avoided had he was simply asked to do less after many discouraging reports about his recovery progress throughout the offseason.